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Old 20-07-2014, 09:30 AM
Egg
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Default Hello from a potential Sulcata dad

Ola, new to the forum so I thought I'd drop in a post

Well, after years of being out of reptile keeping (pet snake as a child), my family and I are in the early stages of considering diving headlong into Tortoises by looking at taking on a Sulcata in a month or so

We're looking at an 18 month old Sully from a pet shop that seems to be saying all the right things (hopefully going to be put in touch with their breeder too), and we've got a specialist vet nearby. In terms of Sydney's initial care, I'm hoping 18 months old is old enough to mean we can't screw things up too easily, and until bigger, simpler tortoise rules should apply in the main.

The obvious consideration with the larger breeds is thinking about when they grow up. We live in a secluded spot with a large rear garden, an adjoining store room that's currently unused, and a paddock out front, so I think we have the makings of a good Sully home. We do however have three cats and a dog, so my first question is, is this a sticking point or (as long as they're not left together unattended) are they likely to be okay together?

Secondly, I've been doing my research on what to expect once Sydney's grown, and I'd really appreciate some feedback on accuracy and anything I've not considered:
- They must have a large outdoor pen, at least 10m x 10m
- This area must be secure from predators/thieves if they are to be left unattended
- This area must be warm and dry (which means a greenhouse/polytunnel type setup for much of the year as they don’t hibernate)
- The perimeter should obstruct their view to a height of about 1m to prevent ‘the grass is greener’ feelings
- They are escape artists and will destroy extremely sturdy barriers to get out; perimeters need to have concreted-in posts or preferably heavy duty block work with deep strong footings (think zoo enclosure)
- They are active (for a tortoise), pacing their perimeter (and wearing out the grass), digging and climbing stuff
- They can be wilful and aggressive, especially (but not necessarily) males
- They must have a temperature and humidity controlled indoor enclosure at least 4m x 2m connected to their outdoor pen (they need to be in it at night, whether they want to or not) with a way of securing it open for the day, and closed for the night
- This should be filled with a substrate of hay and earth mix and needs mucking out daily in much the same way as a horse
- Night-time temp should go no lower than 13DegC (ish)
- During the day, one section should be hot and dry with a basking lamp; about 30DegC
- One section should be humid and cooler; about 21DegC
- One section should be a hide for sleeping in
- There should be a plentiful water supply in there, including somewhere for them to splash about in
- They need to be soaked in warm water at least once a week (more often when they’re younger) and this usually makes them poo! Then you change the water and soak them again.
- There should be a UVB lamp in the room, on for about 14hrs a day most of the year
- Electric bills for this room will be significant, especially if it is poorly insulated
- Their food is mainly grass, hay and weeds with added calcium carbonate and periodic vitamin supplements. They need to be fed daily
- Their poo is similar in size to horse poo and they need poo-picking daily in much the same way
- They eat their own poo, and any other poo they find (dog poo would be very bad for them)
- My children (and quite possibly theirs) will need good jobs

I'll probably have other questions on pre-adult care later, but I'm just trying to make sure there's no shocks in store for us before we go ahead.

Thanks in advance
Matt
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Old 20-07-2014, 05:08 PM
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I don't keep Sullys so I can't really answer any specific questions regarding their care. I can help with your cats and dog question though.

Cats are more prone to trying to hog the heat and are not really known for being aggressive towards tortoises. Dogs on the other hand will see them as chew toys. I do not under any circumstances let my dogs anywhere near my tortoises supervised or otherwise as it just isn't worth the risk.

It sounds like you have done a lot of research into them. There are keepers of larger species on here so hopefully one of them will be able help you properly at some point.
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Old 20-07-2014, 05:22 PM
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Reading your posts looks like you've got everything covered/considered most things, but it also made me wonder why would you want one when you have to go to all that effort

PS - No offence intended as you've obviously got the space etc.
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Old 20-07-2014, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen P View Post
Reading your posts looks like you've got everything covered/considered most things, but it also made me wonder why would you want one when you have to go to all that effort

PS - No offence intended as you've obviously got the space etc.
I nearly did for a Manoria Emys I still would if the potential heating bill didn't reduce me to a cold sweat just thinking about it!
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Old 20-07-2014, 05:33 PM
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Some people just like the idea of a big tortoise. I know I would


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Old 20-07-2014, 06:14 PM
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Yeah, I would too, given the facilities... Matt, from what I know, you've pretty much covered everything- the only thing I could possibly add is that a 'formula' approach my have to be adapted for individual behaviours- no one tortoise follows all the rules. Having said that, though, you've clearly done your homework, and this is going to be one lucky tortoise!
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Old 20-07-2014, 06:25 PM
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Matt, it sounds like you've researched them well, and you'd make a very good home. But as they were mentioned in an earlier post, have a look at manouria emys as well if you want a bigger tortoise. They cope with our weather a bit better-pretty cold hardy as adults, can cope down to about 5 at nights as long as it's double figures the next morning from some US keepers I've talked to, an like the damp more. They also are slightly less destructive in nature. Plus, if you ever wanted to breed or your circumstances changed and you needed to rehome your tortoise, a m.emys would be much easier to find a home for than a sulcata.
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Old 20-07-2014, 06:33 PM
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Most of your info sounds really good, you have done a lot of research:0)
The only thing I query is the temps.
I think Sulcata require higher temps, but this is just what I have read so could be wrong. I know they need higher temps than 13c at night in Winter, and certainly higher than 30c during the day when they are large. As it can take quite a long time for adult med tortoises to warm up when its cold. Larger tortoises far longer.
I think Paul ( Geomyda) on here has in the past kept sulcatas , or still does, so he might well be able to help.
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Old 20-07-2014, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purplepixie View Post
Most of your info sounds really good, you have done a lot of research:0)
The only thing I query is the temps.
I think Sulcata require higher temps, but this is just what I have read so could be wrong. I know they need higher temps than 13c at night in Winter, and certainly higher than 30c during the day when they are large. As it can take quite a long time for adult med tortoises to warm up when its cold. Larger tortoises far longer.
I think Paul ( Geomyda) on here has in the past kept sulcatas , or still does, so he might well be able to help.
I've seen pictures of sulcatas out in snow before in captivity and they've been fine, providing they can they can then warm themselves up. As you said, I think they need a very high basking spot, but also remember that while it takes longer for them to heat up, it also takes longer for them to cool down as well due to their mass.
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Einstein:
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Keeping Tortoises, Snails, Rabbits and a dog among other things.
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Old 20-07-2014, 08:14 PM
Egg
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Well I had written a really witty and interesting reply (it had a joke about Sir David Attenborough, my manhood AND a pun on shelling out in it), but it got lost somewhere between pressing submit and actually making it onto the thread

Anyway, long story short, bigger/bucketloadsofeffort is a selling point to me; something about getting more out than you put in, so put in a lot.

Thanks for the replies all, I'll definitely follow up on the temperature thing, and possibly look into the Burmese Brown if they're more suited to our climate, although they're only the 4th largest, not the 3rd, which is one level cooler, isn't it??? Seriously though, it may mean we end up shelling out less in the long run (remembered the rubbish joke), but really, seriously, I'll look, ta.
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